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Be firm, governor tells HS boss

- Unrest prompts summons to council head

Governor M.K. Narayanan on Wednesday asked Higher Secondary council president Muktinath Chatterjee to be firm in dealing with unjust demands of students, the prod following a spate of campus unrest over demands to declare failed students passed.

Chatterjee turned up at Raj Bhavan on Wednesday afternoon in response to a call from the governor, who wanted to know about the council’s role at a Santoshpur school where students who had failed the HS selection test had gheraoed the headmistress and 13 other teachers for 22 hours.

“He instructed us to show firmness while dealing with similar situations in future,” Chatterjee said at the council office after the 40-minute meeting from 12.30pm.

Council sources said the governor had also expressed the opinion that respective schools should have the final say in deciding which students would be allowed to take the HS.

The school heads and academicians who had slammed the council for its role at Santoshpur Rishi Aurobindo Balika Vidyapeeth are feeling vindicated by Narayanan’s stand.

Two council officials who had gone to the school on December 18 to get the siege lifted announced in front of the agitating students that a re-test would be held for the 29 failed students. Chatterjee later added that the school had to follow the affiliating body’s decision.

“The announcement triggered similar protests across the state. It is the council that is responsible for the series of campus incidents,” said the headmaster of a government school.

The Santoshpur school decided against holding a re-test but a few others — such as Annadasundari Hindu Balika Vidyapeeth in Baguiati — gave in to demands of the protesting students, unable to hold their ground against pressure from alleged Trinamul leaders.

Chatterjee said he had tried to clarify to the governor that the council officials had merely suggested that the Santoshpur school review the results of the failed students.

“Our suggestion was to conduct a review. The review could have been done by either holding a re-test or re-evaluating the answer scripts of the original exam,” said Chatterjee.

This was not the first time the governor was stressing the need to be firm in the face of unjust demands. On Monday, when Metro had asked him on the sidelines of the Jadavpur University convocation about the council’s role in regard to the campus protests, the governor had said” “I am an ex-policeman. I always believe in firmness.”

The governor’s firm stand notwithstanding, academicians fear a repeat of what had happened at Rishi Aurobindo Balika Vidyapeeth. “The council being an affiliating body should not have sent officials to the school. Unless the council realises its mistake, one cannot rule out the possibility of similar interventions in future,” said the headmaster of a state-aided HS school.

Teacher recruit panel

Chatterjee’s visit to Raj Bhavan was preceded by that of state school service commission chairman Chittaranjan Mandal. The governor had summoned him to find out about the alleged goof-ups in the teacher recruitment test held in July.

Re-tests were held at five centres following complaints of shortage and leak of question papers. “We explained to the governor our position. He was happy with our explanation,” said Mandal.